In the last few weeks, I have faced rejection not once, but twice.
I applied for two roles in two different organisations. In both cases, I was passionate about the roles and believed I could make a real difference. But also in both cases, I was rejected.
In my line of work as a speaker, rejection isn’t something that’s new to me. I often get pitched for events and the organisers go for someone else. Again, that’s fair and right but again, it doesn’t stop it from hurting.
When I was rejected from the first role it hurt but I was okay. When I was rejected from the second role it left me numb, then sad and most importantly, with a massive kick to my self-esteem. Looking at this objectively, I just wasn’t the right person for the roles and that’s okay, but emotionally, it's still a difficult thing to experience.
I think that the events of the entire last year haven’t helped. Like so many of us, I've had struggles with my mental health, concerns about my sense of purpose and worries about money and providing for my family.
I am well aware that there are many facing much tougher times and also more relentless experiences of rejection. Sadly, I also believe, that although we're slowly emerging from the Covid-19 nightmare, for many, the real challenge is only just beginning.
Increasing numbers of people are going to find themselves out of work and facing rejections from numerous job applications. It is going to be tough, so here are some thoughts that I hope might help, they are certainly aiding me.
1) The pain you feel is natural
It's not widely known that when we experience rejection, our brains become activated in the same way they do when we experience actual, physical pain. In a way, rejection is biologically programmed to hurt us. So, instead of feeling ashamed or weak, try to remember this pain is your body's natural response to what you've just experienced. Instead, try to seize this moment to be kind and compassionate to yourself.
2) Give yourself permission to heal
Take some time to sit with your feelings. You don't need to instantly get back up and try again, allowing yourself a little time to heel will actually help you in the long run.
3) Spend time with people you love
The people you love and who love you will help you process your feelings, give you comfort and remind you that this is just a setback. You are not a failure. You have simply had a knockback.
Our new dog, Martha, has been an incredible benefit for me during the last few days. Her unconditional love and the way she bounds up to see me, helps me to know that I am of value and I do make a difference.
4) See your rejection as an opportunity
Opportunities come from the strangest places. Try to learn from the rejection and see it as an opportunity to grow. As they say, when one door closes, somewhere a window opens...
I hope this helps a little… I’m off for some chocolate and a hug with Martha!
(If you want to read more about rejection, here is a brilliant Psychology Today article)